At Risk of Being a Fool

Free At Risk of Being a Fool by Jeanette Cottrell

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Authors: Jeanette Cottrell
I wouldn’t use a pipe bomb. I’d use rat poison in the coffee like in that old movie, who was it? Lily Tomlin, I think. He didn’t think it was funny. Security guards have no sense of humor.”
    That’s for damned sure. “It’s pretty bad,” Sorrel said, making an effort. “But I’m okay with it.” The cops thought Judge Hodges was the bomb’s target. It was only a coincidence that it was so close to the van’s drop-off point. She hoped they were right. She really, really hoped so.
    “Well, don’t fret about it. Even the judges have to go through the metal detector. Funny, huh?”
    “Yeah.” The security guys bugged her, always staring, as if their eyes had rubber bands on them, hooked to her ass. They counted her sneezes, her trips to the crapper, noticed every place her hand touched a countertop. If she snatched ten minutes to use the phone, somebody scribbled it down in a little book. Twenty fuckin’ months in Correctional, a month at Esperanza, one month back in Correctional, now almost six weeks at Torrez’s house of horrors. No wonder she was schizoid.
    Sorrel gave up on the cartridges and filled out the order sheet by guess. If she had to count them again, she’d scream. She rubbed her sweaty hands on her jeans and inspected her nail polish. Dust drizzled everywhere, floating through the windows from the courtyard where they yanked out all the bushes. That way, Carol said, there’d be fewer hiding places for bombs.
    A guy at the counter waved a paper in Dorrie’s face. Dorrie patted the air in front of him. Sorrel would have hauled off and slugged him, if he treated her like that. Maybe that’s why they didn’t let her work counters. A moment’s humor flared and extinguished itself. Sorrel moved into Dorrie’s line of sight, pointed to her watch, and held up five fingers. Dorrie nodded, her stream of talk uninterrupted.
    Sorrel slid out the door and down the hallway past the security guard. Habit took over as Sorrel gave him the eye, and a swing of the hip. She might as well make his day for him. Once in the bathroom, she took care of a few things and repaired her face. The panic in the mirrored face shoved her back, suddenly breathless.
    It wasn’t the security guards making her crazy. It was the fear, the fear that he was looking for her. She didn’t used to be afraid of him. But when they’d evacuated the building, the fear had zoomed out of nowhere, that he was out to get her. She couldn’t shake loose of it. She wouldn’t nark on him. He had to know that, didn’t he?
    Worse, yet, the other fear had sprung up, full-blown. She hadn’t even thought of it until yesterday, listening to the guys shooting the bull. All of a sudden, it hit her, and she’d had a hell of time hiding her thoughts. She’d kept to herself, being inconspicuous. Damn, that was Torrez’s word, inconspicuous, and here she was using it.
    Had the others caught on yet? Jeanie didn’t have a clue, but like Quinto said, what else was new? Mackie was smarter. What if they knew, and were hiding it? They’d tell Randy, and Torrez. Her breathing came in short, hard pants. If Torrez found out, she’d be in deep shit. Torrez had had a cow, just with the story about the wedding.
    The door opened and a woman walked in. Sorrel Quintana smoothed her face into emptiness and retouched her eye shadow with meticulous attention.
    ~*~
    Tonio stopped short in the classroom doorway.
    “That dog,” he said.
    “Looks funny,” agreed Jeanie. “So I’ve been told, several times this afternoon. He’s a nice dog, nonetheless. He can’t help his looks. His name is Corrigan.”
    Tonio flashed her a look she couldn’t interpret. Corrigan took a sniff or two and bumped his head under Tonio’s fingers. Tonio rubbed his ears. “Friendly,” he remarked.
    “Oh yes. He’s a longhaired dachshund, about twelve years old. He’s my sister Shelley’s dog, but she’s in Germany right now, so I’ve had him for about a year. He gets

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